Grading Options: Letter Graded and Pass/No Pass

FALL 2020 and SPRING 2021 Modifications: For information on modifications to grading options policies for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, see our Fall 2020 and Spring 2021: Policy Modifications and FAQ page. The page below covers general information about grading options. 

Overview

  • Taking a course letter graded means that you will receive a grade on the A through F scale. Letter grades are calculated into your cumulative UC Berkeley GPA. 
  • Taking a course pass/no pass means that you will either receive a grade of a P (pass) or NP (not pass). Pass grades will earn units but will not be calculated into your cumulative UC Berkeley GPA. 

The pass/no pass grading option is designed to encourage you to explore challenging courses and/or courses outside of your normal academic sphere without having to worry about an impact on your GPA. For more information on how to change a class to a P/NP basis in CalCentral, check out this PDF from Student Information Systems (SIS).

Guidelines for pass/no pass grades

  • Pass (P) grades require a level of performance at least equal to a letter grade of C- and will earn units, but no grade points. No pass (NP) grades represent a level of performance at a D+ or lower. No units or grade points will be earned. 

  • Neither P nor NP grades will affect your GPA.

  • While on academic probation, you must take all coursework for a letter grade unless you enroll in a course that is only offered P/NP.

  • Pass (P) grades may account for no more than one third of your total units required to reach the 120 overall minimum (more information in FAQs).

  • Courses previously taken for a letter grade cannot be repeated with the P/NP grading option.

  • Honors and Distinction at Graduation have letter graded unit minimums that must be met to receive these honors designations. 

  • No requests for retroactive grading option changes (grading option changes requested after the Late Change of Class Schedule deadline) will be considered. There is no process to request a retroactive grading option change. 

Taking all courses in a semester P/NP
A semester that does not yield grade points will lead to probation. For example, if a student takes all courses on a pass/no pass basis, receives all incomplete grades, earns all IPs or NRs, or a combination of the above will fail to achieve a GPA and will be placed on probation. *

*This policy has been modified for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. See top of page.

Deadline

Fall/Spring semestersFriday of the tenth week of instruction at 11:59pm PT

Deadlines for the current term are listed on our homepage.  

Grading Options FAQs

Which General Education requirements can be taken P/NP?

This table represents the general policy for grading options required to satisfy general education requirements. For coursework taken in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, or Spring 2021, see the note below regarding modifications. 

Course Grading Option
Entry Level Writing Letter Graded Only
Reading & Composition Letter Graded Only
Quantitative Reasoning Letter Graded Only
Foreign Language Letter Graded Only (P/NP okay for first level prerequisite)
7 Course Breadth Letter Graded or Pass/No Pass
American Cultures Letter Graded or Pass/No Pass
American History Letter Graded or Pass/No Pass
American Institutions Letter Graded or Pass/No Pass

 

More information can be found on the Degree Requirements page. 

Typically, major coursework must be taken for a letter grade unless specifically noted otherwise by the major department. For any questions, see the major department. 

Policy Modifications

Exceptions to how general education requirements can be satisfied were made for Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. To read more about these exceptions, see the following pages: 

⅓ limit for Passed (P) grades: more information

Passed (P) grades may account for no more than one third of the total units required to reach the 120 overall unit minimum. This includes units completed at UC Berkeley, Fall Program for Freshmen, UCEAP or UCDC, and UCB Extension XB courses.

Passed grades earned in Spring 2020 did not count toward this limit. Passed grades earned in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, however, do count toward this limit. 

Your Academic Progress Report (APR) on CalCentral keeps track of where you are toward this limit and has been adjusted to accommodate the Spring 2020 exception. 

P/NP for Law, Medical, or Graduate School

It is important to note that while P/NP grades don't affect your UC Berkeley GPA, they can have an impact on how graduate or professional schools view your record. While one NP grade is unlikely to impact admission to graduate programs, a pattern of NP grades is likely to be viewed negatively by admissions boards. Due to the highly competitive nature of medical programs, any NPs can have an impact on admissions decisions.

Additionally, it is important to note that law schools recalculate NP grades as Fs for their admissions GPAs. They do not recalculate P grades and will leave them out of their GPA calculations.

To learn more about how medical or law schools recalculate GPAs for admissions, visit the Career Center. For more on this related to the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 modifications, please see the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021: Policy Modifications and FAQ page. 

EPN vs PNP in CalCentral

EPN and PNP are codes CalCentral that indicate you are enrolled in a course for the Pass/No Pass grading option. 

  • EPN stands for "Elective Pass/No Pass." EPN indicates that the course can be taken letter graded or pass/no pass, but that you have selected Pass/No Pass. 
  • PNP indicates that the course is only offered for P/NP grading and cannot be changed to letter graded. 

These codes are simply to help you know your options with your courses. The transcript will only reflect a P or NP once grades are submitted and will not indicate what grading options were available. 

Should I change to P/NP?

Changing a grading option to P/NP can be an effective way to protect your GPA against an unwanted grade. But there are a few things (in addition to the information on this page) to keep in mind when determining if it is the best option for you: 

  1. *Does the course satisfy a requirement that must be letter graded? If you are taking the course for requirements such as Essential Skills or major requirements, you should assess whether you are able to take a different class for a letter grade in order to fulfill the requirement and if that is worth your time. For high demand or capped majors, you will want to understand any consequences of taking a prerequisite requirement for P/NP and if it will impact your eligibility to declare the major (see the Undergraduate Major Adviser for advice). If you are not doing well in a course, it can still make sense to change the grade to P/NP and aim to repeat the NP grade, but again, it is important to have this conversation with your Undergraduate Major Adviser if the course is a mandatory major requirement or part of your intended major's prerequisites. 

  2. *Is the course mandatory for a major or minor you are considering? Sometimes, a course can inspire you to consider a new major or minor direction. Even if the course is not part of your plan now, you will want to think about whether it could become a major or minor requirement down the road. If it might be, see #1.  

  3. If you are having a hard time making a decision about your grading option, you might be stuck in the following thought pattern: "If I change my class to P/NP, what if I get a good letter grade? But if I keep it letter graded, what if I get the grade I don't want?" Instead of bouncing back and forth between worst case scenarios, compare them to each other and ask yourself which one is preferable. 

    For example, Alicia believes it is possible to get an A- in her course, which would raise her GPA, but is worried she might get a C, which would lower her GPA. After comparing each worst case scenario and considering that she wishes to apply to internships soon, she realizes that even though she would be disappointed if she earned an A- but receive a P, she would much prefer that to having a C- affect her GPA at this time. Because of this, changing her grading option to P/NP is what she feels most comfortable with.

    Your decision is your own and students feel very different about these matters. Choose what is best for you. 

    *See our Fall 2020 and Spring 2021: Policy Modifications and FAQ page for relevant modifications.